As a result of new state reforms Flanders has also become responsible for checking up on and sanctioning unemployment benefit claimants. Until now the Flemish were only responsible for providing guidance to job seekers.
The checks will be integrated into existing guidance and mediation procedures.
Flemish employment minister Philippe Muyters: "We don't intend to establish any parallel circuits. Checks at fixed times will disappear and be replaced by a follow-up tailored to the needs of the individual."
Speaking metaphorically, the head of the VDAB, Fons Leroy, noted that his agency will deploy the stick if job seekers do not co-operate. The body that carries out checks on claimants will operate entirely independently. As soon as a job mediator reports that a claimant has not complied with requirements, the control body will take over and the mediator will no longer have access to the dossier.
The VDAB will in future be able to impose sanctions, but payment of unemployment benefit will remain a matter for the federal authorities.
In addition all employment services in one province will be merged, though local offices will stay open. Employment minister Muyters is keen to ensure people receive an identical treatment wherever they live.